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Volume 25, Number 31c
August 1, 2018
 
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All Survive Aeromexcio Crash
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

An Embraer 190 operated by Aeromexico crashed on takeoff at Guadalupe Victoria International Airport in Durango, Mexico, on Tuesday afternoon. Early estimates say that 85 of the 101 people on board Aeromexico Flight 2431 were injured in the crash, including 12 critically. According to Governor of the State of Durango Josť Rosas Aispuro Torres, there were no deaths in the accident.

It has been reported that the plane crashed several hundred feet beyond the end of the runway after attempting to abort takeoff due to adverse weather conditions. Weather reports were showing scattered storms in the area at the time of the accident. There was a post-crash fire, but reports say that the 97 passengers and four crewmembers on board were able to escape without burns.

Aeromexico has not had a serious accident since 2000 when one of its aircraft overran a runway, resulting in the deaths of four people on the ground. The airline’s last accident involving an aircraft in flight occurred in 1986.

AirVenture In The Tail Lights
 
AVweb Staff
 

Immersed in AirVenture

This year marks the 30th Oshkosh trip for me, almost. I skipped a year or two in that 30-year run. The show has evolved so slowly that you often don’t notice how much it has changed since 1988.

For me, the most significant changes are neither the grounds nor the airshow, but the degree of immersiveness. Like forever, there have been technical forums where you could learn everything from welding to fabric work. Sure, some curious bystanders took part in such things, but mostly it was people who were building airplanes or who wanted to.

During the past few years, EAA has added two things: The One Week Wonder airplane building program and the Pilot Proficiency Center. I stopped by the OWW project several times and it was just a beehive of energy and enthusiasm, much of it coming from kids and teenagers. Will this ignite in them a lifelong interest in flying and airplanes? For some it will, but I care less about that than EAA having made an extraordinary effort with a nicely conceived and executed idea.†

I spent an hour in the Pilot Proficiency Center sampling what this program has to offer. This year, you could sign up for a session and the program would pick two or three sim-based scenarios to hone your skills. It evidently thought that I was rusty on crashing airplanes into trees, because that’s what we worked on.

Like OWW, the Proficiency Center offers hands-on involvement that’s a welcome break from just looking at stuff. It forces you to actually think about the fine art and skill of aviating and I’m pretty sure the participants who came out of that hour went home having learned a thing or two and if a little motivation to seek additional training rubs off, what’s not to like? –Paul Bertorelli†† ††

Human History in Photos

Working at AirVenture is a constant stream of articles to write, press briefings to attend and deadlines to meet—not to mention the often-vexing hunt for an internet connection with enough bandwidth to upload everything. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember that there’s more going on at the show than news stories.

Part of what I like about AirVenture is that something usually crops up to remind me. This year, it happened when I met up with aviation photographer John Slemp on Friday morning as I was whipping through my OSH departure checklist. John was working with the Commuter Craft team at their booth over in the homebuilt area. I don’t know much about kitplanes—learning quickly—so John was kind enough to give me the tour and answer my newbie questions. Then we sat down to look at his pictures.

Among many other things, he’s done a series of portraits of Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), several of which he’s taken at Oshkosh. There was something about seeing those women’s faces so carefully photographed that struck me in a way that dashing past warbirds all week hadn’t.

They reminded me of the incredible legacy represented at the show and the constant push by the aviation industry to improve—often through the grit, daring and intelligence that still shows so clearly in the faces of the grandmotherly women in John’s photos. –Kate O’Connor

Future Aviation Workers

One of the undercurrents to AirVenture was the aviation labor shortage and there were plenty of weighty discussions and pithy comments about how it came to be and what can be done about it in forums and sessions on the grounds.

And while pretty brochures and engaging stories of derring-do will attract a few new recruits, it will be business fundamentals that win the day. So, while it’s fun to promote what is generally an interesting set of career choices, attracting new people to aviation will come down to pay and working conditions. The purse strings are loosening, but those working conditions could be a problem.

Most in aviation have long days at odd hours and today’s younger people have made it known those are two of their least favorite things. That can only mean that pay rates will have to reach the point that they think it’s worth upsetting their work-life balance, or at least redefine it. It would also appear that Chinese aviation firms misread the potential of AirVenture as a deep well of aviation talent from which to draw.

The Chinese set up an elaborate booth in the main aircraft exhibit area to try to attract people to their rapidly expanding airline industry. We never saw a soul at that booth and by Thursday they’d apparently had enough. Friday morning the booth space was empty, which I’m guessing matched the state of the prospect list they were trying to build. –Russ Niles

Latest MH370 Report Remains Inconclusive
 
Mary Grady
 
 

Despite an international effort to discover why Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 crashed in March 2014, the accident investigation team has concluded in a report (PDF) released Monday that it was “unable to determine the real cause for the disappearance.” The team said they were hampered by the lack of evidence, since the airplane has never been found. About two dozen pieces of wreckage have washed ashore in southeast Africa, but only three have been confirmed as part of the lost B777. The report concludes, “Without the benefit of the examination of the aircraft wreckage and recorded flight data information, the investigation was unable to identify any plausible aircraft or systems failure mode that would lead to the observed systems deactivation, diversion from the filed flight plan route and the subsequent flight path taken by the aircraft.”

The report also declines to suggest the crew was to blame, noting there was “no evidence” that either the pilot-in-command or the first officer had “experienced recent changes or difficulties in personal relationships or that there were any conflicts or problems between them.” Communications with ATC prior to the disappearance were routine, and no evidence of anxiety or stress was detected. “There had been no financial stress or impending insolvency, recent or additional insurance coverage purchased or recent behavioral changes for the crew,” according to the report. The leader of the investigation, Kok Soo Chon, said at a news conference, “We are not of the opinion that it could be an event committed by the pilot.” Kok also said the report is not considered final, since it was not possible to examine the wreckage or flight recorders.†

Re-enactments of the final flight, undertaken in a simulator using the available flight data, established that the aircraft’s turn off course was “likely made while the aircraft was under manual control and not the autopilot.” It could not be established whether the aircraft was flown by anyone other than the pilots. The report noted that air traffic controllers who were monitoring the flight didn’t follow procedures and failed to watch radar displays as required. They also delayed activating emergency processes, which delayed the start of search-and-rescue operations.

The investigative team included experts from the U.S., China and Australia. Kok said the report is not considered final, since it was not possible to examine the wreckage or flight recorders. Malaysia’s transport minister, Anthony Loke Siew Fook, said the government would review the safety recommendations in the report and take steps to prevent similar future air accidents, according to The Wall Street Journal. The government will also conduct a “thorough investigation” and punish those found guilty of any misconduct, he said.

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Podcast: Being an Aviation Photographer
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

Aerographs Aviation Photography's John Slemp has been taking pictures of all things aviation for quite some time now. In an interveiw at AirVenture 2018, he told AVweb all about what its like to have a career in aviation photography.

EAA: AirVenture A Record-Breaker
 
Mary Grady
 
 

This year’s EAA AirVenture was “about as close as one could imagine” to perfect, EAA Chairman Jack Pelton said this week, in a news release summarizing this year’s data from the show. Attendance set a new record, EAA said, with about 601,000 visitors, nearly 2 percent more than last year’s record crowd. Pelton credited “the combination of outstanding programs, aircraft variety, a robust economy and good weather,” plus the efforts of EAA staff and 5,000 volunteers, who created a show that was upbeat and exciting. More than 10,000 aircraft flew in to local airports for the show, and Wittman Field’s intrepid controllers managed 19,588 aircraft operations over the 11 days from July 20 to 30, for an average of about 134 takeoffs or landings per hour.

Planning is already underway for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019, which will run from July 22 to 28.†“We are celebrating our 50th consecutive year in Oshkosh during 2019,” Pelton said. The show originated in Rockford, Illinois, but moved to Oshkosh in 1970. “We’ll be looking back on a half-century of unforgettable highlights at Wittman Regional Airport,” Pelton said, “and planning activities that involve EAA’s hometown and its unique place in aviation history. While 2018 is barely in the record books, we’re talking to many groups and individuals with intriguing new ideas for aircraft, innovations, exhibits and events. We’re looking forward to announcing features and attractions very soon.”

For Drone Pilots, A New And Better Technique
 
Mary Grady
 
 

Using your torso to fly a drone is easier and more precise than a joystick, Swiss researchers have found. “It’s immersive, and easy to learn, and gives you the feeling that you are flying,” says Jenifer Miehlbradt, from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. The researchers’ aim was to design a control method that requires less mental effort from pilots, so they can focus on their mission, such as search and rescue. The researchers monitored the body movements of 17 people, via 19 infrared markers placed on the upper body. Each participant followed the actions of a virtual drone through simulated landscapes viewed through virtual reality goggles. The engineers found that just four markers on the torso were enough to effectively pilot both flight simulators and real drones through a circuit of obstacles.

The engineers then developed a flight “jacket” that enables the pilot to control the drone without the use of external motion detectors as used in the lab experiments. The Fly Jacket, which has embedded motion sensors, enables the pilot to control their drone intuitively with their body movements—such as leaning forward and backward and pivoting their upper body—rather than with a hand-held device. The jacket also frees the pilot’s hands for other tasks. For example, the researchers said, data gloves could be worn to give additional commands to the drone, such as takeoff and landing, or to indicate points of interest seen from the drone perspective that would immediately appear on a map. “This could be very useful for firefighters or rescuers to quickly and precisely identify locations where help is needed,” said Dario Floreano, leader of the research team.

One Week Wonder Flies
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

EAA’s AirVenture 2018 One Week Wonder completed its first successful flight on Monday evening just one day after the show ended. At the beginning of the week, the Van’s RV12iS was nothing more than a pile of parts. During the seven days of the show, volunteers—ranging from experienced builders to show attendees who had never touched a rivet before—worked together to assemble the aircraft. In addition to being a lot of fun, EAA says the purpose of the project is to highlight the accessibility and possibilities of homebuilt aircraft.

The RV was completed on schedule and taxied in front of the Oshkosh crowd on the final day of the event. “I developed the RV series of aircraft 40 years ago to give people a pathway to safe, enjoyable flying in an economical way,” said Van’s Aircraft founder Richard VanGrunsven. “To showcase the possibilities of the RV-12iS in such a public way as at Oshkosh is extremely exciting.” The first flight, which, according to pilot Vic Syracuse, went just about perfectly, was purposefully scheduled for after the crowds had gone home.

Numbers haven’t been tallied for the project yet, but it has been estimated that approximately 3,000 people participated in building the 2018 One Week Wonder. Each participant was allowed to sign their name on the aircraft and went home with a badge and a commemorative pin. This is the second time EAA has undertaken a project like this at AirVenture. The first was a Zenith CH 750 built at AirVenture 2014.

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Gulfstream Delivers Medevac Aircraft
 
Mary Grady
 
 

A modified G550 jet designed for in-flight medical care has been delivered to the Beijing Red Cross Emergency Medical Center, Gulfstream announced last week. The jet features an “unprecedented degree of technological innovation,” according to Gulfstream. The medical bay is outfitted with equipment to help critically ill patients, including a bed that provides 360-degree access, which Gulfstream says is a medevac first. The cabin also features refrigerated medical storage cabinets, X-ray viewing equipment, fold-out nurses’ seats and berths for crew rest. The jet is intended to be used for disaster relief, evacuation and rescue, Gulfstream said.

Other features in the cabin include advanced life-support capabilities, a bed designed to accommodate an infant incubator and a powered gurney loading system on the aircraft stairs. The G550 can fly nonstop from Beijing to New York or London. The jet was delivered in a ceremony at Gulfstream’s headquarters in Savannah. “The unique design, emergency resuscitation and in-flight surgical capabilities make this airplane truly unique in our industry,” said Gulfstream President Mark Burns. Beijing Red Cross also announced at the ceremony they have contracted for a G650ER, which will also be used as a medevac aircraft.

General Aviation Accident Bulletin
 
 

AVweb’s†General Aviation Accident Bulletin†is taken from the pages of our sister publication,†Aviation Safety†magazine, and is published twice a month. All the reports listed here are preliminary and include only initial factual findings about crashes. You can learn more about the final probable cause in the NTSB’s website at†www.ntsb.gov. Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about†Aviation Safety†at†www.aviationsafetymagazine.com.


April 16, 2018, Warsaw, Ohio

Beech G33 Bonanza

The airplane impacted terrain at about 0630 Eastern time. The commercial pilot and passenger were both fatally injured; the air-plane was substantially damaged. Instrument conditions prevailed; the flight operated on an IFR flight plan. While in cruise flight, the pilot requested a descent after encountering icing conditions. The airplane’s descent continued and then it dropped off radar. The airplane impacted a lightly wooded area and came to rest upright. A post-crash fire ensued.

April 17, 2018, Philadelphia, Penn.

Boeing 737-7H4

At 1103 Eastern time, the airplane experienced a catastrophic failure of its left engine, a CFM International CFM-56-7B. The engine inlet and cowling were damaged and fragments struck the wing and fuselage, resulting in a rapid depressurization after a window failed. The flight crew conducted an emergency descent and divert-ed. Of the 144 passengers and five crewmembers aboard, one passenger was fatally injured and eight passengers received minor injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The aircraft was operated by Southwest Airlines as a Part 121 scheduled passenger flight.

April 19, 2018, Williamsburg, Penn.

Cirrus Design SR22

The airplane impacted terrain at 0843 Eastern time. The private pilot and one passenger were fatally injured; the airplane was destroyed, and a post-impact fire consumed most of the wreckage. Instrument conditions prevailed; the flight operated on an IFR flight plan.

At 0828, while en route at 6,000 feet MSL, the pilot requested to divert to a nearby airport due to ice accumulation on the airplane. The controller cleared the flight to 4,500 feet, the lowest altitude available in the area. At 0842, ATC advised the flight had passed through the localizer for the ILS approach; the pilot requested radar vectors to reintercept the localizer. At 0843, radar contact was lost. The airplane impacted a field 9.5 miles from the divert airport. The pilot’s weather briefing included active Airmets for moderate icing, IFR/mountain obscuration and low-level turbulence.

April 20, 2018, Clewiston, Fla.

Piper PA-34-220T Seneca III/IV/V

At about 1700 Eastern time, the airplane sustained substantial damage when it impacted a taxi-way following a loss of directional control during takeoff. The airline transport pilot and three passengers were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

After landing on Runway 31, the pilot set the flaps and advanced both throttles to takeoff power for a touch-and-go. Shortly after, he felt the airplane yaw to the right, observed an over-boost indicator light for the right engine and lost control of the rudder/steering as the airplane exited the runway. The pilot regained control, reduced both engines to idle and attempted to stop the airplane. It struck the edge of a taxiway perpendicular to the airplane’s direction of travel and became airborne before landing on the opposite side of the taxiway. All three landing gear collapsed; the airplane came to rest upright.

April 23, 2018, Andover, N.J.

Bellanca 7GCBC

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1550 Eastern time after it lost engine power. The solo airline transport pilot lost control and the airplane impacted water. The pilot was seriously injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to a witness who observed the entire accident sequence, after making the first takeoff and experiencing a loss of engine power on initial climb, the pilot made a 180-degree turn, returned to the airport and landed. After troubleshooting and maintenance, the engine was run at various power settings with no anomalies noted. During initial climb after takeoff, the airplane appeared to stall after experiencing a loss of engine power, followed by the left wing dropping. The pilot recovered the airplane to a wings-level attitude, but it impacted water in a flat, “belly-flop” attitude.


This article originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of†Aviation Safety†magazine.

For more great content like this,†subscribe to†Aviation Safety!

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